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Thursday, 9 February 2012
Page: 677

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (11:25): I rise to speak in support of the Nuclear Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill 2011. I would like to support the words of the member for Melbourne Ports, the member for Cowan and the other speakers who have contributed on this bill. This bill implements the provisions of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism by adding new offences to Australia's Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987. The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism details offences relating to unlawful and intentional possession and use of radioactive materials or a radioactive device, or the use or damage of nuclear facilities. It is designed to promote cooperation amongst nations through the sharing of information and the providing of assistance for investigations and extraditions. The convention entered into force in July 2007 and requires all party states to make every effort to adopt appropriate measures to ensure the protection of radioactive material, taking into account relevant recommendations and functions of the agency. Originally proposed by Russia, the convention was first adopted on 13 April 2005 with the ultimate intention of protecting against attacks on a range of targets, including nuclear power plants and reactors. The bill creates new criminal offences, including possessing radioactive material or a convention device; making a convention device using radioactive material; using or damaging a convention device or a nuclear facility; threatening to use radioactive material; threatening to use or damage a convention device or a nuclear facility; demanding another person create radioactive material, a convention device or a nuclear facility; and demanding another person allow a third person to access or control radioactive material, a convention device or a nuclear facility.

It would be nice to live in a world where such legislation was not necessary, but Edmund Burke's words from 1790 remind us 'There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.' Just before Christmas we had an important reminder of Edmund Burke's words and that the threat of terrorism in Australia is ever present when three Muslim extremists were convicted by the Supreme Court of Victoria for conspiring to plan a terrorist attack in the electorate of Hughes, which I represent. Each were sentenced to 18 years jail. The aim of these home-grown terrorists, members of an Islamic terrorist cell who had all met in a Preston mosque, was to enter the Holsworthy Barracks armed with military weapons and shoot 500 personnel or as many people as they possibly could before they were killed themselves or ran out of ammunition. The Holsworthy Barracks is more than just a military establishment. It has a history going back almost 100 years and it is the place where the families and friends of our defence personnel often gather to attend parades and ceremonies. Holsworthy railway station, a station used by several thousand commuters every day, sits on the boundary of the Holsworthy Barracks. Thankfully this planned terrorist attack in Sydney's south-west was thwarted when police arrested four suspected plotters before they had a chance to enact their plans.

To those anonymous heroes involved in what was known as Operation Neath—the joint investigation by the AFP, the Victorian Police, the New South Wales Police, the New South Wales Crime Commission and ASIO, who were supported by other agencies including the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions—whose work was responsible for foiling this terrorist plot in Sydney's south-west, we cannot thank you enough for your professionalism, for your dedication to duty and for getting the job done. In handing down the 18-year jail sentences, Justice King told the court that she had a duty to protect the community, given that none of the accused had shown any remorse for a terror plot she described as an evil. Her Honour further said:

Your intentions and your plans were deadly serious. It was to kill as many personnel that could be found on the army base at Holsworthy in the time prior to yourselves being killed as martyrs …

She also noted:

… despite being given the opportunity, none of the trio had recanted their extremist views.

At the trial the court also heard that the three had expressed hatred of Australian people, whom they repeatedly referred to as 'infidels'. One of the convicted was even recorded as celebrating the death toll of the Black Saturday bushfires, saying it brought retribution to Australia.

Of the three convicted terrorists, one was born in Somalia and one in Lebanon. How such individuals are accepted into Australia as migrants remains a mystery and demonstrates that we must give our migration authorities all the resources that they require to undertake vigorous background checks of prospective migrants to ensure that they share our beliefs in human rights, liberty, inclusion, diversity and equal rights for women and, above all, that they are prepared to have a commitment and loyalty to the Australian nation above any other belief. The third convicted terrorist was, amazingly, an Australian-born citizen of Lebanese refugee parents.

Rightfully, Justice King said their disloyalty towards their adopted country was shameful. She said:

The fact that Australia nurtured you and your families is something that should cause you all to hang your heads in shame, that this was the way you planned to show your thanks for that support.

Your views about Australia and Australians, and your attitude towards the country's armed forces, its civilians and its government were clear. Your plans were evil.

But, unfortunately, this was not a one-off event. As the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine, recently pointed out:

... Of the 38 people recently prosecuted for terrorism-related offences in Australia, 37 were Australian citizens and 34 were either born here or lived here since childhood.

Clearly, home-grown terrorism is a threat in Australia. Although we rightfully celebrate our multicultural society as one of our nation's greater strengths, it is also a warning sign that not all is well. We cannot bury our heads in the sand to this growing problem. If we are to avoid creating a divided and dysfunctional society, multiculturalism must be a policy for the whole of society to adopt and it must not be a policy which encourages the growth of a series of various monocultures developing in certain suburbs in a major city.

The threat or the use of nuclear weapons has been of paramount concern for governments for more than 60 years. While the threats of the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union have all but diminished there still remains the threat from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran. In addition, the threat of nuclear terrorism is real. It is well known that al-Qaeda has attempted to acquire nuclear materials, either plutonium or highly enriched uranium. The possibility of future terrorist activities using nuclear devices must be a concern for all governments, including the Australian government, and it must be one we are prepared to confront.

Preventing these terrorist acts and deterring those who might seek to commit them requires full international cooperation. The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism is one way of fostering this international cooperation. This bill demonstrates Australia's commitment to ratifying this international counterterrorism instrument as an integral part of strengthening its legal framework to fight terrorism. I commend the bill to the House.